BEAST OF BURDEN
From STORAGE Magazine Vol 11, Issue 4 - November 2011
EVERY BUSINESS RELIES ON EMAIL; WITHOUT IT, COMMERCE WOULD GRIND TO A HALT. YET, IT HAS ALSO BECOME A REAL CHALLENGE THAT NEEDS TO BE TAMED, AS BRIAN WALL REPORTS.
Data storage has undoubtedly become a massive challenge for organisations everywhere and, unless that challenge is managed properly, they are likely to suffer huge consequences, not least a sharp drop in employee productivity right across the business. Choosing a hosted email archiving system can help reduce the administrative overhead, while proving simultaneously beneficial to the business at large.
Email archiving is now widely seen for what it is: an essential business tool whose benefits go far beyond the realm of the IT department. And it is much more than the frequent trigger of regulatory compliance - it's a strategic tool for productivity, long-term information storage, discovery, retrieval and access.
Why archive? For many good reasons and ones that businesses are embracing more and more. Symantec, in its white paper, 'Business Benefits of Archiving', cites an Osterman Research survey, indicating that 38% of respondents prioritised deploying archiving to better manage storage; 35% for managing eDiscovery; and 35% for managing regulatory compliance. Indeed, Symantec.cloud research has found similar results in its investigations.
In fact, as Symantec points out, companies need archiving for a range of business needs that are becoming increasingly imperative across their organisations as storage needs grow. It's worth reflecting on the main ones:
Regulatory compliance - many organisations must comply with demanding industry- specific regulations, such as those enforced by the Financial Services Authority or The Law Society. Regulations impose standards for retention, data protection, and confidentiality. This requires not only having the technology in place, but also having a formal policy and written procedures in place for taking the required actions.
Legal requirements - companies that don't fall under the purview of regulations, or which don't foresee legal discovery issues, may assign lower priority to archiving, but they do so at their own peril. However, archiving isn't just about legal issues. "For example, the Data Protection Act affects most businesses. Anyone can issue a subject access request - a request for a listing of personal information - and you have to comply, whatever your industry sector," adds Symantec. "Without an archiving system, IT departments have to deal with these requests by manually searching emails for any mention of the individual in question. A central, searchable archive can simplify the whole process and make it much less time-consuming, often reducing the time from hours or even days, to minutes.
E-discovery - you may rely on your email records as evidence in a court case or employment tribunal, and you may have to produce them as part of the discovery phase. According to Osterman, 2 75% of legal case now require the submission of email. "Collating emails can be very time consuming, but can be significantly simplified by an archiving system," comments Symantec. "However, before a court accepts any email, it must comply with standards and security safeguards, and a coherent and rigidly followed retention policy. It can be hard to meet these requirements by just storing email on your email server." Being able to search for every relevant email and produce irrefutable evidence could reduce your legal fees and may even mean the difference between winning and losing in court.
Employment disputes - from a human resources perspective, retaining archives will help protect the organisation against potential contract or employment disputes.
Employee productivity - the most compelling reason to deploy a formal email archiving system is based on employee productivity. Staff members routinely save emails, often building up huge files on their desktops. Radicati Group estimates that the typical corporate user sends and receives 110 messages every day. When someone needs to find a particular email or attachment, it may take a considerable amount of time to locate it, especially if the email in question is several months old. An archiving system can do the same search in seconds.
At the German Space Operations Centre (GSOC), recognised as the leading institution of manned European space travel, the European Columbus research laboratory generates critical research data, in addition to that collected from monitoring operations. Developed and implemented in collaboration with ASSISTRA, an Atempo partner, the new DLR backup solution ensures rapid disaster recovery in the event of an emergency. In addition, around 50TB of data from 2008 and 2009 will be stored on tape with the Atempo Digital Archive solution.
"In the aerospace industry, we work with extreme security requirements that make even the installation of standard systems a challenge. Should a system fail, the whole world would be watching us," says Dr Rolf Kozlowski, deputy head of the communications and ground stations department at DLR. "The security of the Columbus research data is a top priority, and comprises voice, video and measurement data. However, at the beginning of the Columbus project in February 2008, the storage and backup solution already in place was not always available, and often proved itself to be unstable and difficult to manage after even just a short time in operation."
Today, the DLR uses a NAS cluster, based on two Hitachi NAS products, in combination with USP VM storage systems in the prime data centre that are mirrored in the backup data centre. The backup of the entire storage system is performed centrally with Atempo Time Navigator. ATN saves the data in the backup data centre daily to a tape library and completes a full backup every two weeks for the 14 file systems in the DLR's six independent sub-systems. The backup policies for each sub-system avoid bottlenecks by evenly distributing backup operations across systems. Also, storage administrators can restore data, using Atempo Time Navigator's intuitive interface.
In the near future, the data will also be stored for up to 10 years following completion of the project, using Atempo Digital Archive, in order to optimise storage space and ensure long-term storage of the data until 2030. All data that is older than the previous year is then completely moved, using Atempo Digital Archive, from more expensive hard disk storage to cost-efficient tapes in the tape library, so as to optimise storage space capacities.
"By optimising our data storage and backups, we have significantly reduced the number of failures and costs associated with them," adds Kozlowski. "Our new backup architecture means we can restore our data quickly at any time. And, in an emergency, we rely on support from ASSISTRA and Atempo's support in Germany."
With on-going maintenance of the existing systems becoming something of a drain on resources, Johnson Carmichael acted at once. And, after an in-depth review of the products available, it elected to work with CommVault, choosing its Simpana product set. The decision was clear cut, it states, as not only did Simpana deliver exactly to the brief but, following the rigorous and complicated review, all of the additional questions put to CommVault were then answered efficiently, which demonstrated the high level of knowledge Rintoul wanted.
CommVault's Simpana not only solved the known backup problems that Johnson Carmichael had identified, but it also helped to instantly ease the staff resource issue by centralising the backup process and immediately reducing the number of tapes that needed to be managed. The system is also future proofed, according to Rintoul. "Simpana has been designed for enterprise use, which means it offers a comprehensive range of features, along with support for business applications, and the additional bolt-on modules mean that we can enhance what we have access to within the suite as the business evolves. I needed the clever stuff and wasn't convinced that all available technologies, including Cloud solutions, could offer it in a cost-effective manner." continues Rintoul. "We needed to look at Exchange mail compliance and archiving, and, in parallel, it needed to manage the backups simply across a new VMWare and NetApp environment.
"Improvements have been seen across the board and already the company is much more confident in its abilities to protect its sensitive data. Simpana has simplified the entire process and ultimately stopped the backup procedure from being a chore and instead made it an integral part of the entire business," adds Rintoul. "Overall, the amount of time we spend managing the 'backup and compliance' systems, and searching for information across them, has reduced, which has had a substantial and positive impact on the business, and helps to further drive up our level of return on investment."
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